Saturday, December 6, 2008

ATOMIC DOG - Mad Man on the Couch

TC, Editor-in-Chief of T-Nation, writes a weekly column called Atomic Dog. He basically uses the space to talk about whatever is on his mind, often with a lot of low-brow humor and an edge of "progressive" (in the I love women and weights and can still have feelings kind of way) masculinity.

This week's Atomic Dog is a little different than usual -- it's more a stream of consciousness piece centered on his feeling a bit depressed. He set this up as his monologue in a therapy session. I'm leaving out the first bit (where he riffs on Prince Albert and some bizarre incident with a deer tongue) and posting the meat of the article. It's long, but I think he makes some good observations.

Mad Man on the Couch

But like I said, I've been feeling a little depressed lately. I'm not ready to really go into a whole lot of specifics right now, but suffice it to say it's got to do with one of those life-and-death medical conditions affecting someone close to me. You know the type I'm talking about, they come out of the blue, one minute you're thinking life is pretty good and you're a Master of the Universe and then some shit comes hurtling from the sky, thrown by some angry god who apparently had had enough of your hubris.

So you get the biopsies and you sit around, glassy eyed, for about a week or two, waiting for the damn phone to ring so you can hear the benign thing or the malignant thing.

And the phone did ring, and it wasn't the good thing, the benign thing, and now you've got to watch them go through the chemo.

So not only do you start thinking about their mortality, you start thinking about your own.

I keep reciting this old poem by John Dryer in my head, and I mean reciting it, close to the point of going nuts:

Lighthearted stuff, huh? Speaking of obsession and compulsion, did you know that the author Nathaniel Hawthorne took to writing the number 64 over and over on scraps of paper? And I don't think anybody knows why. That's kind of a weird thing, don't you think?

You know what else is weird? You know how a lot of guys think Sarah Palin is hot? I think a lot of them voted for her ticket for that very reason. Anyhow, Tina Fey looks like her, right? But no one thinks Tina Fey is hot. You'd have to be nuts to think Tina Fey is hot. See what I'm saying? There's an incongruity or inconsistency there.

It's like the time I posted a picture on the site of one of the world's hottest, highest-paid swimsuit models. A lot of guys dismissed her as being no hotter than "hundreds of girls" on their campus or bowling league or whatever, but when some average female posts a picture of herself on the site wearing her JC Penny bargain bin white bra, bad lighting and pasty skin and all, they all go nuts over this newly discovered, milky skinned Venus.

It's bizarre, this, this... proximity hotness. Guys are funny that way. If there's some chance, however remote, that they can actually nail a girl because she's in their History of Western Civilization 101 class or they're talking to her on a forum, she's all the more hot. So yeah, proximity hotness.

But who knows what it is with Palin? Maybe it has something to do with the fact that she was a beauty pageant winner in Alaska. Of course, given that it was Alaska, she was probably competing against a moose and a frozen Eskimo turd, but because of the illusion of beauty perpetuated by this beauty pageant win, the hotness tag stuck. Hell, there are parallels of this type of phenomenon all over the place.

Take Saturday Night Live, for instance, since we were talking about Tina Fey. It absolutely sucks. It hasn't been funny for at least ten years, but people are in the habit of it once being funny; they're told again and again how funny it is, so everybody still believes it.

Same thing with Seinfeld after Larry David left. . It sucked. But people were used to being told Seinfeld was funny and great so the perception lingered despite all evidence to the contrary!

But back to the obsession and the depression. You know, when I was 10 years old, I asked an Ouija board how long I'd live. The answer came back 77. Maybe Nathaniel Hawthorne asked the same question and it told him 64, and that's why he kept writing it down on a piece of paper. I'll have to go Google how old he was when he died. Wouldn't it be Twilight Zone if it were 64?

I tell you one thing, Doc, if you get depressed, take my advice and don't tell your friends. They'll start to avoid you. Maybe they're just totally inept in dealing with darkness. Hell, nowadays if you're faced with a situation that requires some sort of display of emotion or solidarity, you mail a fucking Hallmark card, right? No mess.

Or maybe it's just that depressed people have a stink about them; best to stay clear of that.

Hell, I remember when my mother died. Everybody I knew back then got real scarce. It's not like you need somebody to join in your misery, you could just use some distractions.

I keep thinking about that poor bastard who offed himself on a couple of weeks ago. Now I'm nowhere near where that poor schlub was in terms of depression, can't even imagine myself being close to that poor schlub, but despite all the bad chemicals in his head, he reached out to people on that dopey website, people who, he'd once posted, had "become like a family to me." He told them how he was thinking about killing himself.

And rather than help him, dear Doctor, the motherfuckers urged him to swallow the antidepressant pills that eventually killed him.

And so he did. Poor Abraham Biggs, 19-year-old Abraham Biggs, swallowed the pills in front of his video cam, and then walked his skinny body over to his bed and laid down, never to get up again.

His "family" watched him lie there for 7 hours until the local policemen, apparently alerted by some audience outlier with a speck of humanity, knocked the door down. Site members responded with shocked OMGs or LOLs.

Here's my acronym for the LOL group: IWSAFKIYBBHAH, which, for you non-texters means I Will Stick A Fucking Knife In Your Black Black Hearts, Ass Holes.

Luckily, I have my coping mechanisms, high on the list of which is sex. Of course, if you get too depressed, you have no interest in sex and even some nice cans can't dig you out of that hole. Then you're really fucked.

But I'm nowhere near losing interest in sex, thank God. Sex, or thoughts of sex, or better yet, graphic, HD pictures of sex, can sometimes knock me out of this morbid loop of thinking. Is it that sex is life affirming? You know, the procreative, circle-of-life thing?

Or is it tied somehow to my childhood? I've never really told anybody this, but I used to, briefly, have a vagina. Let me explain quickly so your arched eyebrows can relax. You see, I had this undescended testicle when I was a kid. Damned thing wouldn't budge. It seemed quite content to lounge around my inguinal cavity forever.

The family Doctor even pumped me full of Testosterone at the age of 12 in an effort to make it drop, but it didn't work. So the day after Christmas, my parents surprised me by taking me to the hospital for an operation on my testicle. Hey, thanks folks! Let me sing you a little song to commemorate the event!

Trouble was, my spermatic cord was a little short, so the Doctor literally had to stitch my testicle — right through the scrotal sack — to the inside of my leg for a few weeks. The idea was to force the spermatic cord to stretch so that the testicle wouldn't run home to momma the next time it got scared, either by me standing on a high ledge somewhere or, I don't know, seeing my grandma do her nude calisthenics every morning.

By stitching my scrotum to my leg, it made kind of a little hole, a little pocket of skin, half of which consisted of scrotal skin and half of which consisted of my thigh. I could actually stick my finger in it and imagine that it was kind of like what a girl's hoo-hah felt like.

So it makes sense I'd have a fascination for hoo-hah, given that I had a kind of makeshift hoo-hah of my own for a few weeks. Of course, having a practice vagina served me well later on when I actually encountered a legitimate one.

Maybe that's the key to my id, huh? I mean, having to go to gym class with an ersatz vagina, showering with the seventh grade gym class with an ersatz vagina, I mean, geez Doc, there's got to be at least one paper for the journals in there, right?

Or maybe I'll come up with some great philosophical treatise based on that experience. You know Descartes' main contribution to the world was based on a sexual experience of a kind. As a child, he had a cross-eyed female playmate for a friend. They parted ways, but for years he had a sexual thing for cross-eyed women. But you see, Doc, once he realized the source of his fetish, he was free of the compulsion and was able to love women with normally-spaced eyes. This realization, this insight, led to Descartes' defense of free will and the ability of the mind to control the body.

I think, therefore I am, was the result of a sexual fetish!

You and me Descartes, although you gotta' admit, I had it a far sight worse than you did.

But I think the main source of my current problem, Doc, is that I can't live in the moment. I'm always anticipating four, five, or a hundred steps ahead. And I have trouble accepting anything as inevitable, even death.

I keep telling myself, courtesy of that New Age wanker, Eckhart Tolle, "Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have," but it won't stick, Doc.

Hell, I can be stuck in a humdinger of a July 4th freeway traffic jam, boxed in on all four sides with nothing but miles and miles of cars up ahead. Even so, rather than accepting the situation and listening to some books on tape or something, I'll be pounding on the steering wheel and cursing the heavens, but still calculating and trying to look for a way out, maybe by driving smack through the guardrail and up that son-of-a-bitchin' hill...

So that's why I got a little depression going. I'm obsessing about the unraveling of the mortal coil and I'm pissed that I can't completely control the situation. I love life so much that I can't stand the idea of it ending... for me, or those close to me.

But I'll get out of this murky funk. It takes sheer will. It's like hoisting a heavy, heavy weight. It takes a lot neurological impulse and a whole bunch of calories, but I can do it. Happiness, too, is inevitable, right?

So, same time next week, Doc?

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